Penn State Football

Gameday breakdown: Penn State vs. Iowa

Penn State (4-2, 2-0) at Iowa (4-2, 2-0)

When: 8 p.m. today

Where: Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City, Iowa

Series: Iowa leads 12-9 (three Penn State wins vacated because of NCAA sanctions)

Last meeting: Penn State won 13-3 last year (win vacated because of NCAA sanctions)

Coaches: Penn State — Bill O’Brien, first year, 4-2; Iowa — Kirk Ferentz, 14th year, 100-68 (112-89 overall in 17 years)

Television: BTN (Announcers: Eric Collins, Derek Rackley)

Radio: WQWK 1450, WBUS 93.7 (Announcers: Steve Jones, Jack Ham)

The skinny: Oh, the similarities. Both teams lost to Mid-American Conference schools, with Penn State falling to Ohio University and Iowa tanking against Central Michigan. On the season’s second week, the teams fell to BCS conference schools, with Penn State booting a game away at Virginia and Iowa producing an offensive dud against rival Iowa State. The Nittany Lions and Hawkeyes are seizing Big Ten reprieves. Iowa owns league wins over Minnesota and Michigan State. Penn State blasted Illinois and rallied past Northwestern. Michigan and Ohio State are the only other undefeated teams in conference play. Want more proof the Nittany Lions and Hawkeyes are evenly-matched? Penn State averages 27 points per game, Iowa 22. Penn State allows 16 points per game, Iowa 17.2. The teams are tied for Big Ten lead with plus-7 turnover margins.

Nittany Lion to watch: Glenn Carson — Hard to forget Carson’s “wrestling school” comment about Iowa last year. Never mind Penn State owned the NCAA title when Carson made his statement. A big move (think football’s version of a cradle or cement mixer) might be needed to win this game. The junior middle linebacker is capable of hitting one. Carson, by the way, reached three New Jersey state wrestling finals in high school, winning a 215-pounder title as a senior.

Hawkeye to watch: Greg Garmon — Mark Weisman is likely out with a sprained ankle. Damon Bullock has a head injury. Jordan Canzeri is still recovering from a torn ACL. Barkley Hill suffered a knee injury before the season started. The awful luck means Garmon, who attended District 10 McDowell High School, will start against a team that recruited him heavily.

Key matchup: Penn State’s passing defense vs. Iowa’s passing offense — If Weisman doesn’t play, the Hawkeyes might try to win this one through the air. Penn State’s secondary isn’t getting deeper, but it’s getting better. The Nittany Lions have held three of their past four opponents under 140 passing yards.

By Guy Cipriano

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